Guarantee of origin
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The Guarantee of Origin (GO) is an instrument defined in European legislation, that labels electricity from renewable sources to provide information to electricity customers on the source of their energy. Guarantees of origin in the meaning of Directive 2009/28/EC are the only precisely defined instruments evidencing the origin of electricity generated from renewable energy sources . In short, a GO is a ‘tracker’ guaranteeing that one MWh of electricity has been produced from renewable energy sources; and if the customer buys the GO, they can be certain that they have purchased green electricity, as the GO is then taken out of circulation and discarded (‘cancelled’). Therefore, GOs are the instrument for making green electricity contracts reliable.
In short, a GO is a "green label" which ensures that one MWh of electricity has been produced from renewable energy sources, and if the electricity customer buys power which has been certified with GOs, they are certain to have bought power from renewable sources. After selling the associated power, the GO will indeed be taken out of circulation and destroyed, so that the same amount of electricity cannot be sold a second time as 'green'. Therefore, GOs are the instrument to make green power contracts reliable.
A Guarantee of Origin is similar to a label on a bottle: it carries information telling the consumer facts about the product. Controlling the information and the accuracy of the guarantee of origin is therefore of critical importance. A unique body (e.g. an electricity regulator or a transmission system operator) is usually granted this authority for a given domain.
In their most accomplished form, Guarantees of Origin are issued electronically for a controlled quantity of electricity generation (usually 1 GO per MWh), traded and redeemed (i.e. used) by suppliers as evidence to their customers of the quality of the delivered electricity. Generation from renewable energy sources is the most sought-after attribute. A new development concerns guarantees of origin for cogeneration heat plants (or CHP). Some countries already have guarantees of origin issued for all types of electricity generation (nuclear, coal, ...). Possible extensions also include fair-trade, CO2 statistics, ...
Guarantees of origin should not be confused with the Eugene Green Energy Standard or EKOenergy labelling scheme. Both provide consumers with more information about their power (transparency). However, Eugene and EKOenergy go further by requiring additionality. Besides, Eugene and EKOenergy are private initiatives whereas guarantees of origin arise from European regulations.